Category: Teen

10 Great Books for Youth and Teens with Great Heroines

The number of books written with amazing heroines makes it daunting to pick 10. May your life be filled with too many heroines as well on this Inauguration Day. Let’s get inspired!

audacity code name verity

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge lies we tell ourselves

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

lumberjanes Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and illustrated by Brooke Allen

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell

You Cant See the Elephants by Susan Kreller zita_frontcover

You Can’t See the Elephants by Susan Kreller, translated by Elizabeth Gaffney

Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

life-in-a-fishbowl-by-len-vlahos

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos (InfoSoup)

When Jared Stone discovers that he has terminal brain cancer, he decides to sell his life to the highest bidder on eBay. He gains the attention of a nun, a psychologically-disturbed man of leisure and wealth, a video-game playing teen, and a TV producer. When his posting is pulled down on eBay, only one person is left, the TV producer. So Jared and his family become the focus of a reality TV show and lose their privacy entirely. Jackie, Jared’s 15-year-old daughter, will not willingly participate in the show, figuring out how to avoid the crew and the cameras. But perhaps there is even more that she can do as she starts her own behind-the-scenes YouTube show that tells the truth about the editing and manipulation of her family by the reality show.

Vlahos tells a story of our time, about the dangers of believing in what we see on TV, of the siren call of money and the problems and advantages that come with using the internet for connections. Told from a variety of points of view, including Jared’s tumor, the book has a dark sense of humor throughout. Despite that humor, there is a sense of claustrophobia that pervades the novel as well, one that is built on the invasion of privacy from the TV cameras and then exacerbated by the manipulation and deviousness that surrounds the family.

Still, there is not despair here, even with a terminal illness as a central theme. It is instead a book about fighting back, being true to yourself and finding a way forward against the odds. A large part of that is Jackie, a girl who doesn’t fit in at school and appreciates her privacy. This is her nightmare scenario as the TV cameras roll and it forces her to reach out for help to people who are like her and can aid in fighting back. Through Jackie, we see how the Internet is more than darkness, it is also a source of hope and connection. It is both things at the same time.

A book of complex issues, the fakery of reality TV, and the dual sides of the Internet, this is a riveting read. Appropriate for ages 13-16.

Reviewed from ARC received from Bloomsbury.

 

 

10 Best Graphic Novels of 2016 for Children and Teens

I didn’t manage to read as many graphic novels as I would have liked this year. In fact, I still have some on my to-read shelves that I hope to get to. I love the bridge that graphic novels form for children and the incredible artistry that is found in them.

27414462 Giant Days, Vol. 1 (Giant Days, #1)

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing

Giant Days Volume 1 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar

Hilo Book 2: Saving the Whole Wide World Hippopotamister

Hilo: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

Hippopotamister by John Patrick Green

Little Dee and the Penguin March: Book Three (March, #3)

Little Dee and the Penguin by Christopher Baldwin

 

March: Book 3 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell

Mighty Jack The Nameless City

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks

Snow White: A Graphic Novel Sweaterweather: & Other Short Stories

Snow White by Matt Phelan

Sweaterweather & Other Short Stories by Sara Varon

Loving vs. Virginia by Patricia Hruby Powell

loving-vs-virginia-by-patricia-hruby-powell

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell, illustrated by Shadra Strickland (InfoSoup)

Released on January 31, 2017.

In 1955, Richard and Mildred fell in love in the countryside of Virginia, in Caroline County. Their neighborhood was special and people of all races congregated together. As they went to drive-in movies together and started spending time together, the larger community showed its prejudice since Richard was white and Mildred was African-American. The two of them could not attend dances together, even though Mildred’s family was playing the music at the dance. The two of them get married in 1958 in DC, but their marriage isn’t legal in Virginia. Eventually, they are thrown in jail even though Mildred is pregnant with their second child. The two of them are forced to move to DC and never return to see their families together for decades. As Mildred begins to reach out to lawyers to help, she writes to the ACLU who take up their case which becomes a landmark case for interracial marriage in front of the US Supreme Court.

Written in verse, this novel shows the courtship of Richard and Mildred, their lives together and the damage done by the initial judgement against them that forbade them to cross the border into Virginia together. The use of poetry as a format allows readers to see both Mildred and Richard’s points of view as their relationship grows, flourishes and then is challenged. The book inserts other important Civil Rights events in between the poetry, so that readers can keep an eye on the other changes happening in the United States. It’s an important piece of their story, showing that other changes came much faster than theirs.

The illustrations by Strickland are done in limited colors of oranges and blues. There are beautiful moments captured such as the two teens running through the woods together at night, silent and free. There are also bleak moments like being pulled over by the sheriff with a flashlight shining in their eyes. The illustrations move from freedom to constraint much in the way the story develops and are important in revealing emotional elements to the tale.

This verse novel tells the true story of Loving vs. Virginia and speaks to the importance of regular people standing up to unjust laws. Appropriate for ages 13-15.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

 

 

25 Best Teen Novels of 2016

It was a great year for teen novels with lots of wonderful fantasy and realistic fiction. Here are my 25 top picks for the year:

After the Woods The Dark Days Club (Lady Helen, #1)

After the Woods by Kim Savage

The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Draw the Line Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Draw the Line by Laurent Linn

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E.K. Johnston

Falling Over Sideways The Female of the Species

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis

The Great American Whatever Highly Illogical Behavior

The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle

Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

Julia Vanishes Learning to Swear in America

Julia Vanishes by Catherine Eagan

Learning to Swear in America by Katie Kennedy

The Memory of Light On the Edge of Gone

The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork

On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis

The Passion of Dolssa The Radiant Road

The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry

The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull

Saving Montgomery Sole Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)

Saving Montgomery Sole by Mariko Tamaki

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

The Star-Touched Queen (The Star-Touched Queen, #1) The Steep & Thorny Way

The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Still Life with Tornado The Sun Is Also a Star

Still Life with Tornado by AS King

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Symptoms of Being Human Thanks for the Trouble

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Thanks for the Trouble by Tommy Wallach

Three Dark Crowns When the Moon Was Ours

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Vassa in the Night

Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

three-dark-crowns-by-kendare-blake

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake (InfoSoup)

The author of Anna Dressed in Blood returns with a spectacular series opener. On the isolated and shrouded island of Fennbirn, magic still exists. Separated from the mainland, the island governs itself. Every generation triplets are born to the queen, each one heir to their own type of magic. But only one of them can become queen, the other two are destined to die. Katharine is a poisoner and she should be able to feast on poisons that would kill others, but her magic is weak though that fact is hidden. Arsinoe is a naturalist and should have the ability to grow plants and find an animal familiar, but her familiar has never come. Mirabella is an elemental, able to call down enormous storms and dance with fire. She has more power than any elementalist before her. Behind the three girls exists a web of politics and power willing to lie, steal and kill their queen onto the throne. Let the fight begin.

Blake has created a deep tension in this book that plays across the page beautifully. Everything is balanced on a knife’s edge, from the deception of the two weak queens to the unwillingness of the strong queen to kill her sisters. Readers get to see the mechanization behind the throne, the various factions teaching the queens, pushing them into power and punishing them when they fail. For each queen, there is pain, threats and powerlessness despite their station, each expressed in different ways.

The world building here is exquisite from the mist shrouding the island to the vague mentions of the mainland. It is the politics that frame the book, making the horror of the climb to power so immensely readable. The entire novel is riveting with pacing that is skillfully done, the slower sections allowing for the build of despair or horror, love or lust.

A dark delight of a novel that is a rich mix of fantasy and horror. Appropriate for ages 13-17.

Reviewed from library copy.

You can check out the book trailer too!

10 Great Books on Immigration & Immigrants

Immigration is huge in the news right now with the Syrian refugees, Mexican immigration to the United States, and the promises of the incoming administration. As libraries and librarians, we serve our entire community wherever they hail from. Here are some wonderful books to celebrate the power and importance of immigration for our nation and the world:

The Arrival insideoutbackagain

The Arrival by Shaun Tan

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai

The Land of Forgotten Girls Mamas Nightingale by Edwidge Danticat

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly

Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation by Edwidge Danticat, illustrated by Leslie Staub

The Matchbox Diary pancho rabbit and the coyote 

The Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline

Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote: A Migrant’s Tale by Duncan Tonatiuh

the-sun-is-also-a-star-by-nicola-yoon Their Great Gift by John Coy

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Their Great Gift: Courage, Sacrifice and Hope in a New Land by John Coy, photographs by Wing Young Huie

The Turtle of Oman unforgotten coat

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce